Every June in Lanesboro, Minnesota (the rhubarb capital of Minnesota and also my dream birthplace) the annual Rhubarb Festival goes down. While most of my peers are purchasing tents for Bonnaroo, I’m looking up flights from JFK to Fillmore County Airport for the Rhubarb Festival. Music? Rhubarb Festival’s got it. The Rhubarb Sisters have been crooning about rhubarb since 2006. Sport? Run the Rhubarb 5k to build up your appetite for pie. There’s even a Rhubarb Rant Speakers Corner for those who want to pontificate on rhubarb. Enjoy rhubarb chilis, jams, chutneys, cakes, pies and more. It’s basically heaven and hopefully one day I will get to go to the Rhubarb Festival. But until that day comes, I’m going to have my own Rhubarb Festival in Washington Heights. First thing on the to-do list, make this insanely delicious strawberry rhubarb crisp. Next up at the festival— take your photo with Ruby and Ronald Rhubarb (me and Oliver). This crisp demands to be served hot with a perfect scoop of really good vanilla ice cream (Haagen-Dazs) on top. Your life just got a whole lot better. Make this every day until rhubarb is no longer in season. Mourn the day when it goes out of season.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
From the goddess of fine living, the Barefoot Contessa
4 stalks of rhubarb cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cups of strawberries, halved
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbsp corn starch
1 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup quick cooking oats (not instant oatmeal)
1 1/2 sticks of cold hearted butter, diced
Vanilla ice cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the rhubarb, strawberries, orange zest and 3/4 cup of sugar together in a large bowl. In a measuring cup, dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice. Add to the fruit mixture. Put the fruit into an 8 x 11 inch baking dish. For the topping, mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, the brown sugar, salt and oatmeal together in a standing mixer. On low speed add the diced butter and mix until the mixture becomes crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit until it covers the fruit completely. I got a little nervous here and didn’t put all the crumb topping on top. Mistake. Load it on because the fruit WILL bubble over, so you want a good solid roof of buttery crumble topping to keep the fruit at bay. Bake for 1 hour until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Thank God you are alive.